Ireland Gaol (Jail) Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Record Description
Record Type Gaol (Jail) Registers
Collection years 1798-1928
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives of Ireland

What is in the Collection?

This collection contains records for the years 1798-1928.

The records of Irish jails and their prisoners are handwritten on preprinted forms and are generally well-preserved. Approximately 90 percent of the records are general registers that could include any of the following lists and registers:

  • General Registers
  • Male Registers
  • Female Registers
  • Description Registers
  • Drunken Registers
  • Military Prisoners and Convicts
  • Lunatics
  • Prisoners committed for trial
  • Prisoners suspected or known to be discharged convicts •Convicted prisoners’ offences and punishments
  • Convict classifications
  • Convict transportations

The remaining ten percent consist of indexes, court records, and administrative reports.

As soon as jails were opened, their officials began keeping records of the inmates. Beginning in 1836, the jails were overseen by the Government Prisons Office and the Office of Inspector-General of Prisons. Their supervision continued until 1880. The General Prisons Board assumed the supervision for the years 1877 through 1928. The jails were required to send copies of their administrative reports to the appropriate government offices. The National Archives of Ireland has the records of more than 40 prisons and other penal institutions. It is unknown what percentage of the population is covered by these records.

Collection Contents

Irish jail registers usually contain the following information:

  • Name
  • Inmate number
  • Date of commitment
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Reputed crime of the accused
  • Sentence
  • Release or disposal date

Some registers may also include the following

  • Physical description
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Marital status
  • Birthplace
  • Last residence

Indexes usually contain the following

  • Name
  • Inmate number
  • Year of commitment

Sample Images

General Register
Description Register
Register Index

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before you begin your search, you will need to know which jail your ancestor was confined in. If the jail’s records have an index, search the index first. The inmate number will help you to locate the inmate in the registers. Keep in mind that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.

The age listed can be used to determine a birth date. The last residence and occupation lead you to court and census records that may have information on parents and siblings. The religion and marital status will lead you to church records such as baptism and marriage.

You may also want to search for court records as they may have additional information about your ancestor such as other residences along with names of witnesses, neighbors, and distant relatives.

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the “Frame number" category which takes you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Use the estimated age to calculate a birth date.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
  • Titles may be clues to property ownership, occupations, rank, or status within the community.
  • Be aware that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.
  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
  • Look in the indexes; they will help safe time in your browsing.
  • Search the records of nearby localities.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"Ireland - Gaol (Jail) Registers, 1798-1928." Database. FamilySearch. : accessed 2017. Citing National Archives of Ireland, Dublin.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record will be available with each record once the collection is published.

Image Citation:

The image citation will be available once the collection is published.